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Debugging

Debugging is significantly more difficult when there are several processes spawning dozens of tests in multiple browsers.

For starters, it is extremely helpful to limit parallelism by setting maxInstances to 1 and targeting only those specs and browsers that need to be debugged.

In wdio.conf:

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maxInstances: 1,
specs: ['**/myspec.spec.js'],
capabilities: [{browserName: 'firefox'}]

In many cases, you can use browser.debug() to pause your test and inspect the browser. Your command line interface will also switch into a REPL mode that allows you to fiddle around with commands and elements on the page. In REPL mode you can access the browser object or $ and $$ functions like you can in your tests.

When using browser.debug() you will likely need to increase the timeout of the test runner to prevent the test runner from failing the test for taking to long. For example:

In wdio.conf:

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jasmineNodeOpts: {
defaultTimeoutInterval: (24 * 60 * 60 * 1000);
}

See timeouts for more information on how to do that using other frameworks.

Watch files

With v4.6.0 WebdriverIO introduced a watch argument that can help you to run certain specs when they get updated. To enable it just run the wdio command with the watch flag like:

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wdio wdio.conf.js --watch

It will initialize the desired Selenium sessions defined in your config and will wait until a file that was defined via the specs option has changed. This works regardless you run your tests on a local grid or on cloud services like SauceLabs.

Node Inspector

n.b. If you are using Node v6.3 and above, you should use Node’s built-in debugger, instead. See below

For a more comprehensive debugging experience you can enable debug flag to start the test runner processes with an open debugger port.

This will allow attaching the node-inspector and pausing test execution with debugger. Each child process will be assigned a new debugging port starting at 5859.

This feature can be enabled by enabling the debug flag in wdio.conf:

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{
debug: true
}

Once enabled tests will pause at debugger statements. You then must attach the debugger to continue.

If you do not already have node-inspector installed, install it with:

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npm install -g node-inspector

And attach to the process with:

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node-inspector --debug-port 5859 --no-preload

The no-preload option defers loading source file until needed, this helps performance significantly when project contains a large number of node_modules, but you may need to remove this if you need to navigate your source and add additional breakpoints after attaching the debugger.

Node built-in debugging with chrome-devtools

Chrome devtool debugging looks like it’s going to be the accepted replacement for node-inspector. This quote is from the node-inspector github README:

Since version 6.3, Node.js provides a buit-in DevTools-based debugger which mostly deprecates Node Inspector, see e.g. this blog post to get started. The built-in debugger is developed directly by the V8/Chromium team and provides certain advanced features (e.g. long/async stack traces) that are too difficult to implement in Node Inspector.

To get it working, you need to pass the --inspect flag down to the node process running tests like this:

In wdio.conf:

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execArgv: ['--inspect']

You should see a message something like this in console:

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Debugger listening on port 9229.
Warning: This is an experimental feature and could change at any time.
To start debugging, open the following URL in Chrome:
chrome-devtools://devtools/remote/serve_file/@60cd6e859b9f557d2312f5bf532...

You’ll want to open that url, which will attach the debugger.

Tests will pause at debugger statements, but ONLY once dev-tools has been opened and the debugger attached. That can be a little awkward if you’re trying to debug something close to the start of a test. You can get around that by adding a browser.debug() to pause long enough.

Once execution has finished, the test doesn’t actually finish until the devtools is closed. You’ll need to do that yourself.

Dynamic configuration

Note that wdio.conf can contain javascript. Since you probably do not want to permanently change your timeout value to 1 day, it can be often helpful to change these settings from the command line using an environment variable. This can used to dynamically change the configuration:

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var debug = process.env.DEBUG;
var defaultCapabilities = ...;
var defaultTimeoutInterval = ...;
var defaultSpecs = ...;
exports.config = {
debug: debug,
maxInstances: debug ? 1 : 100,
capabilities: debug ? [{browserName: 'chrome'}] : defaultCapabilities,
specs: process.env.SPEC ? [process.env.SPEC] : defaultSepcs,
jasmineNodeOpts: {
defaultTimeoutInterval: debug ? (24 * 60 * 60 * 1000) : defaultTimeoutInterval
}

You can then prefix the wdio command with your desired values:

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DEBUG=true SPEC=myspec ./node_modules/.bin/wdio wdio.conf

Dynamic Repl with Atom

If you are an Atom hacker you can try wdio-repl by @kurtharriger which is a dynamic repl that allows you to execute single code lines in Atom. Watch this Youtube video to see a demo.